Here’s Tika Sumpter’s Response to the ‘Reverse Aunt Viv’ Conversation About Her Role in ‘Mixed-ish’

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When the cast for the “black-ish” spinoff “Mixed-ish” was announced earlier this year, a lot of people had questions. Because on “black-ish,” the mother of Tracee Ellis Ross‘ character Rainbow was played by Anna Deavere Smith, who’s fair-skinned.

But on the spinoff, the mom is played by Tika Sumpter, who’s of a darker complexion.

Tika Sumpter (left) talked about why she’s playing Tracee Ellis Ross’ mom in “Mixed-ish” instead of Anna Deavere Smith (right). (Photo: Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic via Getty Images, Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images)

So it didn’t take long for people to call the switch a “Reverse Aunt Viv,” which refers to Janet Hubert playing Will Smith‘s aunt in the “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” then abruptly being replaced by Daphne Maxwell with no explanation.

Sumpter talked about the Aunt Viv comparisons at the Urbanworld Film Festival last month and explained that casting wanted to go with a brown-skin woman for the mom character because it better suited the “Mixed-ish” storyline.

“I don’t know if it’s reverse Aunt Viv, but what I do know is the creators of the show wanted to serve the story, and the story for them is fully rounded with a brown-skinned woman as the mom, and I was like, ‘Alright, cool, if that’s what you guys want,’” Sumpter told The Root. “And it does serve what we’re doing and I hope everybody sees it and they get it. I’m loving it.”

But people weren’t loving the casting decision before the show aired, and they let it be known on social media.

“Ok so Tika is playing the mom on #Mixedish but Rainbows mom on Blackish is very light….. Ummm explain this to me,” one person wrote in May.

“Bows mom got that Michael Jackson situation,” wrote another.

Some also had a problem with the name of the show and considered it generic, while others believed Sumpter was cast just so someone with darker skin would be represented.

“Mixed-ish” takes place in the 1980s, and Sumpter’s character Alicia Jackson lived on a hippie commune and married a white man, played by Mark-Paul Gosselaar. She also went to Berkeley Law school.

Sumpter spoke about her character last month during an interview on ABC and explained what she’s like, as well as her parenting approach.

“She’s this free spirit but she also has a different dynamic from the world we live in,” she explained. “And she’s also a black woman, who is going through the ’80s as well and is a lawyer. … So it’s different [than how she was raised] and she knows it’s different for her children too, because they are mixed. And so they are looked at differently.”

“Mixed-ish” airs on Tuesdays at 9 p.m. Eastern Time.

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